Feeding ecology and diet

Scaphopods feed on microorganisms, their diet dominated to a greater or lesser extent by foraminiferans. Some species, however, also feed on mite and other eggs; kinorhynchs (microscopic marine invertebrates); ostracods (tiny crustaceans); and bivalves. As such, they can be considered microcarnivores or microomnivores. They select their prey by using thin, ciliated muscular tentacles called captacula, which have an adhesive gland complex in their tip that can transport food items to the mouth inside the shell. Depending on the species, the tentacles either extend out through the sediment or search the wall of a feeding cavity created by the scapho-pod's foot. Foraminiferans have a shell or test, and scaphopods deal with these protective structures by crushing food items with their relatively large radula, a ribbon of teeth found in most mollusks. The scaphopod radula is short, stout, and heavily mineralized with iron. Food passes into the stomach and through a U-shaped gut; feces are released into the mantle cavity and discharged through the posterior aperture.

Scaphopods are preyed upon by all marine organisms that plow the sea floor mud for food. Their predators include such fishes as the ratfish. Naticid snails also feed on scaphopods, leaving behind the beveled bore-hole as the characteristic evidence of their predation.

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